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Mar 05, 2012, 12:43 PM
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QUESTIONS: Extreme Duration/Distance via gas or elec?and building a flight station??

Hi Guys I am New here. Im in San Diego.

I'd like to take advantage of the emerging technologies coming out of military research on UAV's it Blows my mind how cheap the transmitters and camers etc are.

Ive read about another emerging aspect og=f the UAV thing and that is using the cell systems (nit the rinky dink little helos which you can use a phone as controller) It appears that the gear is out there to basically make your aircraft a cell phone and send commands to and stream telemetry and video back through cell towers.
I am gathering parts to build a simulator type flight station from which to fly the ship, and VFR RC helos and use as a helo fixedwing hng real flight sim with the software By no means do I have everything worked out but a good platform seems to be the 96 inch predator kit with all the electronics - running through the cell towers for control. This appears to open up the entire world to flying an RC aircraft. I have two main questions at this point if any one has any info.

1) The limiting factor is ability to extend distance/duration of the aircraft. I'd like to be able to put a ship up for several hours at like 5000 feet. The technology is geared for 15 minute flights on VFR (visual flight reference) at the park. I want to be able to sit in a simulator or flight control station either at home or in a small trailer.
Take off and fly from point A to point B maybe 2-3 hour flight. Problem is flying that far.

There are guys making alternator/generators for 4 stroke gas engines and remote on board starters too. Seems to me with enough fuel you could fly anywhere with an on board genny it can keep the batteries up on the electronics...

Does anyone know where I can find some research into different engines and Motors and which gets the best miles or minutes Per ounce of fuel/batteries. Only way I know to keep batteries up is a generator through a charger or to cover all the horizontal air frame surfaces with solar collectors. I don't know how this all works out when the types (gas or electric) are compared, then which would require the greatest payload on the air frame. etc

I am not an aeronautical engineer are there any out there that can help me sort this out to a manageable set of problems or assumptions.

Im looking for thoughts but also hard facts from research on time or distance per ounce of fuel or battery. then can solar collectors replace energy used withing paylod capability and same with fuel. On a 96 inch long predator how do I figure usable payload to know what the weight to amp hour of ounce of fuel budget is......

2) In doing a flight station an online look at the cost of commercial simulators THE COST OF A CHAIR ON A FRAME WITH MOCKED UP FLIGHT CONTROLS IS RIDICULOUS. some guys have taken broom sticks etc then made op complicated gimbals and pulley systems to manipulate the little sticks on a normal radio control unit.

I need to figure out how to turn say.....cyclic movements into signals which can then be translated into signals sent to the aircraft.

Do I need to take the guts out of a normal controller for TX to a HELO.

I am surprised that non of the manufactures a joystick and pedals and throttle etc to recreate a more real way to fly.

Im working on my private helo license and its really hard to go back ad forth form using rudder pedals to control the tail the go to RC andise the throttle lever fir the tail.

I set mu controller for helo so the left lever works backwards for Collective pitch. Since you lift a collective lever from floor to add pitch its more natural to me to pull it down for the same purpose.

I'd sure like to plug some pedals into ,y control box to take over that flight control.

As cheap as this stuff is and as easily as it is produced in china it seems to me simple to have a pedal assembly which jacks into the control box.

Using a standard RC heli radio controller is a very unnatural set of motions and ergonomics I know its the way things have always been. But with digital and telemetry being returned PLus Video games have all kinds of car and airdraft controls.

Instead of two little sticks which make no natural since why doesn't someone make a flight controller with a joy stick,and a more natural way to fly a model aircraft.

anyone know how to integrate a joy stick and pedals into a radio controller box.

I found a Helicopter contractor here in san diego who gave me some salvege stuff....a seat and instrument panel from a HUEY and two old cyclic s from a Sikorsky sky train. I need a Collective with the rear hinge assembly then a yoke and throttle so it can be a flight station for both help and fixed wing.

any ideas in this regard.

Thanks all

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Mar 05, 2012, 04:41 PM
Registered User
If I might suggest that you start doing a search or two right here on Groups for some of the basic categories you speak of. Tons of information here on electric vs. gas, ground control stations, mobile command units, telemetry, etc. etc.

Most of this stuff has been done for some time. You might want to check over on the FPV forum as well.

Good luck!

Mar 05, 2012, 05:21 PM
A man with too many toys
Best duration would be with a very efficient internal combustion engine. As far as small airplane size engines a 4-stroke engine burning gasoline would be the most practical. Two strokes and nitro fuel are not good for duration flying.

Modern design engines are usually much better because we have learned a lot over the years about combustion chambre design and flow in and out of the cylinder. Fuel injection is best but expensive.

Mar 05, 2012, 06:35 PM
airplanes r made from aluminum
wilem's Avatar
Last edited by wilem; Mar 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM.
Mar 11, 2012, 03:47 PM
Registered User
Maynard Hill did it nine years ago:

Jim R.
Mar 11, 2012, 06:20 PM
Registered User
Apart from questions of legality and comments from CAA, at 5k feet as you propose how will you avoid manned aircraft? Or have you just got some many millions in the bank you just dont care if you bring down a plane full of passengers? Get real and do a LOT more research first!
Mar 12, 2012, 10:55 AM
airplanes r made from aluminum
wilem's Avatar
Originally Posted by macboffin
Apart from questions of legality and comments from CAA, at 5k feet as you propose how will you avoid manned aircraft? Or have you just got some many millions in the bank you just dont care if you bring down a plane full of passengers? Get real and do a LOT more research first!

i agree with you wholeheartedly, BUT

actually, its just the opposite, if you don't have any money no one will sue you...nothing in it for attorneys. if you have deep pockets everyone will.
Mar 13, 2012, 02:26 AM
Registered User
If you already fly RC airplanes, skip the next paragraph.

I would suggest you learn how to fly rc planes first. You will find it very difficult to test out your different systems if you are not comfortable flying the plane alone. Also it would be very difficult to set up a reliable auto-landing feature, certainly harder than just learning to land the plane yourself.

I have not done much research as to long distance flights, but it seems that you would be losing efficiency turning a gas engine, which turns an electric motor backwards (a generator), then turning a motor forward. If you run a gas motor for the prop and turn a generator off that engine as well you may have a decent setup.

I believe the general answer to this would be gas, but I think electric would be a better option. For one thing, there is the noise, but also it is simpler than trying to run a generator off a gas engine.

You will run into problems with the FAA flying at 5000 ft. You may just need to talk to someone from the FAA to see what your options are. I would imagine you would be doing this in an unpopulated area, so you may just need to issue a NOTAM, or notice to airmen. I know when skydivers go out they do this, and it just is a warning to pilots to be aware that there will be skydivers within a certain radius at a certain altitude. No guarantees here, but it is a possibility.

Another thing to look into would be an autopilot, as controlling a RC airplane at long distances makes you very susceptible to interference or a misaligned antenna. A cell phone link will not be able to transmit video, or at least not fast enough, to fly a plane manually. If you had a cell phone coupled with an autopilot and some programming skills, you could update waypoints in flight.

I will stress this again, if you don't know how to fly RC planes, do that first! Get a trainer, then get something bigger before you even get your UAV frame. Spend 6 months of solid flying getting to know RC airplanes before you attempt to fly your expensive plane with expensive stuff onboard. If something fails during tests, you can switch back to having control and know what to do with having control of a RC plane.

I got into flying RC planes because I wanted a UAV (as in autonomous, all RC planes are UAVs), but I knew I needed to learn to fly first. It turned out that I loved flying so much that I got caught up in just flying. I am just started on my UAV project a month or so ago.

Best of luck!

Mar 13, 2012, 03:24 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by wilem
i agree with you wholeheartedly, BUT

actually, its just the opposite, if you don't have any money no one will sue you...nothing in it for attorneys. if you have deep pockets everyone will.
In that case you wont have to pay rent, or for food, for quite a while, decades maybe!
Mar 13, 2012, 03:41 PM
Registered User
One more consideration about gas or electric for extended duration; electric planes land at the same weight they took off; gas planes having burnt off a lot of fuel land lighter.
Add to these factors;gas planes with large tanks need them close to CG or there will be balance and trim problems as the flight proceeds. Will probably need a pump system to get that fuel to the engine which will probably be some distance from the tank. (More cost, weight, complexity, things to go wrong!). Electrics are much easier to balance, just spread the various bits around, (Motor/s, ESC/s, batteries, radio gear etc) to get the cg right for the chosen airframe.

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